Exbury 10k – 18 March 2012

10k map

10km route and speed/elevation chart

It was one of my New Year’s resolutions, and today I ticked it off the list – run, and finish, a 10k race.

In hindsight, picking a race that was consistently uphill for the second half was a terribly bright choice, but I can hold my head up high with some personal stats:

  • completion in 59’53” – not bad for a hilly course
  • first three miles in 27″15 – well, it was downhill
  • race position #260 out of 363 finishers (and approximately 450 registered starters – so 87 no-shows or gave up)
  • the last race I did was in 1995 – 10k in 57″30′ and that was totally flat – so I’m not too concerned about being two minutes slower

I’ve also learned a few things which I’ll put into play next time (yes, I think there will be a next time!):

  • I would have been better off with a protein bar ahead of the race than a protein shake – six miles of sloshing around wasn’t the best
  • I really must try to go at a consistent speed – the first half of the run was too fast and hampered me on the way back
  • I should carry something to drink – I’m pretty sure I needed a slurp around the 7km mark and had to wait until I’d finished

But, all things considered, I had a good run and I clocked a time I’m happy with – and one I can improve.

Any suggestions, running hints, or race tactics always welcome.

Pride comes before a fall

I can’t help wondering whether some of the aphorisms we learned as children are self-fulfilling prophesies, some are borne from experience, some simply to scare children, and finally some which are utter nonsense.  Of course, the trick is telling which ones are which – remember the story, and pick your own category:

  • Carrots don’t help us see in the dark – but too many will turn you orange.
  • Easting the crusts of the bread won’t make my hair curly nor put it on my chest.
  • So far, going out in the rain hasn’t made me catch the death of a cold – although I do believe that the Italians could suffer from a hit of air (see an earlier blog).
  • And if it made us go blind then there would be a lot of blind people in the world!

But what made me think of this today was “pride comes before a fall”.  I felt pretty good after my training 10k on Monday, and then interval training on Tuesday, and so I expected today’s gentle 4 miler to be reasonably straightforward. And because of that complacency I didn’t everything wrong – a heavy lunch, heavy legs (although that sounds like a French complaint), and overall tiredness.  Lesson learned and I won’t be doing that again – but at least I made the mistake now rather than on the day of the race!

Anyone else done something similar?

Reality check II

As I have blogged before, in a few weeks time I’m running in a 10k race and so I went for a run outside today and achieved my objective: completion in less than an hour. Provided that I keep up the training regime from Amy, I now have a positive mental belief that I can complete the course and in a time with which I’ll be happy.

The first mile was hard going while my legs warmed up, and when I got to the four mile mark I knew I was going to finish. Having run the distance I know that I can run the distance – it will just be down to preparation, timing, and how the day goes.

But why do I mention this again so soon? Early this afternoon I was feeling pretty good – and then I had a telephone call. Continue reading

Reality check

My race number arrived in the post today (one of my resolutions!) and, in truth, I’m a little excited. And a little nervous too, because getting the race number means there’s not long to go and it’s all a bit real.

But sometimes we need the reality check to remind us that tasks have to be done: where would we be without deadlines and targets? Can anyone say that when the travel agent asks for the balance of payment it doesn’t cause a frisson of excitement because it means the holiday is getting nearer?

As the freight train of a deadline rushes headlong towards us there are two options, the same instincts which kept our ancestors alive: fight or flight. And that reactive mechanism is itself triggered by a reality check – for example, is this lion going to eat me? And the fact that we’re all here today does tend to suggest that our ancestors were, at least in part, successful.

So, to my mind at least, a reality check helps me focus and sometimes to produce my best work because I haven’t got time to think about a rough draft to be improved over time, I have to produce a result or live with the consequences. As some academics have put it for their particular reality, publish or perish.

And as I said before, procrastination just isn’t an option.

So, what gives you a reality check – and how do you react?

Happy thoughts #5 – and a bit more philosophy

“Procrastination is the thief of time.”

For a long time I didn’t understand exactly how putting something off to another day could actually cost me time, but once I understood the meaning I started to look at it more deeply:

  • if I put something off until tomorrow, or next week, or some future date, then I’ve spent time today in thinking about it and making a decision to postpone the action.  In reality this (and the time I’ll spend thinking about the delayed matter) is time which I could have used towards the task (even if I couldn’t have finished it); or
  • if someone else delays dealing with a task from which I require the output then my time is stolen in chasing, remediating, explaining, or even just managing the delay.  (There is the deeper question of managing expectations, but perhaps that is for another day.)

Outside of work this can range from simply tedious to deeply frustrating; overall – work included – time thefts can directly be related to financial costs, and can even affect the bottom line.

Is the message, therefore, not to put off until tomorrow what we can reasonably do today?  I think that’s an entirely reasonable position, and it’s directly related to my happy thought for the week.

My diary got crunched at both ends this week and so yesterday I ended up going for a run at lunchtime (hard intervals) and another in the afternoon (slower and longer, but with a powerful finish).  I had thought about postponing one or the other but I’m glad I didn’t: I felt really good after the second, both mentally and physically. And so my happy thought is all about my running – and the fact that I didn’t succumb to the subtle lure of procrastination.

And the thought to ponder: what will you now do today that you would otherwise have put off?

Happy thoughts #1

One of the traditions that my eldest brother has with his family is that they share ‘Happy Thoughts’ over their Friday night dinner.  The simple rule is that the happy thought must relate to something which has happened during the previous seven days, and each person picks just one thing.  I rather like this tradition and on some Fridays, especially when I’m not with Stephen and family, I’ll post my happy thought here.

This week’s happy thought: doing a 5 mile run (in the howling wind and rain!) last Sunday in a personal best time.

What’s yours?